When I was asked if I wanted to be a “GangLeader” for a blogwalk as part of #blogcamp15, I saw it as an opportunity to do something different and exciting! After all how many times did I get the chance to capture a suburb of Kumasi with my own gang members? Like never.
#SuameGang, #AsafoGang and #AdumGang were the three gangs set to pitch against each other to determine the best gang to have the best and most photos of a suburb in Kumasi. After much planning and strategizing, my gang #SuameGang won! What a feeling it was too! We had worked hard, walked through mazes of Suame magazine metalwork shops and foundries and communicated pretty well for a group in which many people had never each other before until the walk.
I learnt some very valuable lessons whilst I was a GangLeader of the #SuameGang which I would I believe helped in helping us to win.
Everything in life needs a plan. Nothing happens by chance especially if there’s a goal or objective in mind. I have always known this but one which I worked on and one which yielded much fruit. I never very well that I had never been to Suame magazine, neither had any of my team members. I planned to go a day before the blog camp to familiarize myself with the area. Some team members were already residing in Kumasi so I communicated with them on getting a bus once the team arrived in Kumasi. This was a great help on their arrival. Thankfully too some gang members also decided to arrive in the Garden City on Friday as well. By Friday evening we were ten in number.
Listen with three ears.
I had 22 team members to listen to on ideas, suggestions and comments. On a whatsapp group, communication and listening well is key. I had 22 people to listen to. The ideas on which story to focus on poured out, suggestions on transportation flowed back and forth and questions kept coming at all kinds of hours. I learnt how to listen to each suggestion and see how best to respond to it without offending the “ suggestor “ when the suggestion wasn’t feasible. My third ear was my creative ear which I use to catch the little and quiet ideas which could flow from the unexpected member. There are some members who never comment on anything yet the day they do, its always something amazing.
Submissiveness Makes You Stronger
I love photography and I knew most people on my group knew this. I have been on a few photowalks and won some one or two prizes for some photos. They knew that. But it was something I couldn’t lord over them. For me, it was unthinkable. I had to learn to be humble to know that there were other people with different skills from mine which I could use for the success of the team. As a team, bringing together all the skills on board was crucial and not to allow one’s own specialised skills to make one arrogant. Being ‘too-known’ doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Be open to take in other people’s ideas and not shoot them down at first instance. I wasn’t afraid of asking for someone’s help in making a decision neither did I cower from delegating a task to a member.
Be Ready For Disappointments…They Will Come.
22 people signing up doesn’t mean 22 will turn up. I hadn’t thought about this occurrence and it was only after speaking to a friend about it which made me think about this actually happening. I had four people not making it in the end. Crushing disappointments came last minute from some members. How did I deal with it? I didn’t take it to heart and accepted any excuse they gave and moved on to finding a solution for that last minute change. That worked and things moved smoothly. Here I was in Kumasi and managing the other groups on a bus heading to Kumasi via a social media network. I had assigned responsibilities so as to delegate and to teach some members on being proactive. Even with responsibilities being assigned to some, trust me, disappointments will come. Be prepared.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone…The World Is Waiting!
I had never been to Suame magazine except through my experience on Google Images. But I had been to Kumasi before and I knew it was just a matter of asking around on how to get to a particular suburb. I did this through the receptionist at the hotel I was staying at. I was to go to Tech Junction and pick a ‘magazine’ car. I found the station and found myself in a ‘magazine’ bound tro-tro. I hadn’t sat in a troski for years and found myself sweating and wondering why on earth the driver couldn’t slow down. I had forgotten how cheap tro-tro was (GHC1.60) compared to the GHC50 one taxi driver was going to charge me for taking me to the suburb; ONE WAY! I alighted at Matthias Junction and found myself looking at a place which looked familiarly like Abossey Okai. But where were the metal engineers? Where were they soldering and welding? I walked around and asked a few shop owners where the welders were. He pointed behind a storey-building.. aha! I walked there and found myself in a compound of more shops. I made two more enquiries which led to me a corner strip which looked like it led to nowhere in particular. I squeezed past a generator and a small gap in a wall to find myself in more shops selling spare parts, bolts and nuts and crazy wires hanging everywhere. I was almost about to give up when I decided to make one last enquiry.
‘Where can I find the place where they make cars and welding works?’ I asked respectfully in my best polished Twi to three men sitting idle infront of a closed shop. I showed them a Googled photo of a man welding a metal frame.
They asked me to ask the woman in the next shop who then directed me to ITTU. What is ITTU? I strolled down and saw a large compound on which sat a single low-lying building with several opened doors in which I could see machinery. There was hardly anyone there. At this point I was getting frustrated and very sweaty. I walked slowly by whilst staring in the compound. The Suame ITTU signboard stared back at me in my frustration and dared me to continue walking past or walk in. Whatever man! I walked in. My decision to walk into ITTU was a key moment which brought amazing favor to our group. I broke any timidity spirit which was holding me back and which often holds many of us back from talking to that person who could be the key to our successes and breakthroughs. In a society where most of us were raised up to talk only when spoken to and where assertiveness is seen as ‘onukpa nin feemor’(acting as an adult in one’s youth) many a youth find it difficult making the first proactive approach in talking to a total stranger to make enquiries especially with an objective like mine in mind. So what favor did we get? It got us an unofficial local guide who was a worker at ITTU. His familiarity with most of the workers in the vicinity, took us deep into foundries, oven manufacturing factories, welding shops, car spraying sheds and the amazing opportunity to have conversations with the hard-working men and women in Suame magazine. To think I almost walked past an opportunity.
I believe my team saw my passion for the work ahead and it inspired them to work hard to make the work ahead successful. I know they probably had an earful of my reminders on how to post to social media and how to take creative photos. It was important for them to see my vision for the blogwalk ahead of us. My passion became their passion so much that it reflected in most of their submitted photos on Instagram. I was so proud of most of the photos I saw after the walk. These were people who weren’t pro photographers but used their smartphones to tell a powerful story. A leader must be passionate about their vision for his/her members to get synced with that passion which rubs off on them.
These were the main valuable lessons I learnt from being the ‘GangLeader’ for the ‘SuameGang’. I hope these will inspire someone out there leading any team to work their way towards success. If you would like to know more about #blogcamp15 and future blogcamps, follow Bloggingghana on Twitter for more information.
Thank you to my fantastic team!